What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment to replace female hormones. Typically, women opt for HRT to treat uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. HRT can be effective for many women, although the treatment is not right for everyone. Consider these 3 signs that the time has come to ask the doctor about hormone replacement therapy.
1. You can’t sleep at night
Leading up to menopause, many women start to experience severe sleep disruptions. Hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia are all common menopause symptoms. For many women, these symptoms go on for years. However, treatment can help alleviate sleep disturbances.
2. It’s affecting your relationships
Two common menopause symptoms may affect a woman’s relationships: mood swings and loss of libido. For many women, fluctuating hormones and vaginal dryness lead to disinterest in sex. And mood swings can make women feel impatient with their loved ones or partners. If these symptoms are interfering with healthy relationships, women may need to seek treatment.
3. Nothing is easing your symptoms
Lifestyle adjustments such as eating healthy, exercising, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule can treat some menopause symptoms. Women may also find that symptoms improve after limiting caffeine or alcohol. For others, however, natural options may not work well. When this is the case, start the conversation with the doctor about other treatment options.
Benefits of HRT
HRT can be extremely helpful for hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and night sweats. The treatment can also help protect against osteoporosis, the condition that leads to brittle bones. HRT may also be helpful for women who have been exposed to less estrogen than normal. This could be because of premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause. Whatever the cause, estrogen therapy can decrease risks for stroke, heart disease, and even dementia.
What are the risks?
Hormone therapy is not right for everyone. Women who start treatment over age 60 or more than 10 years from the start of menopause have increased risks for certain health conditions. Women who have higher risks for blood clots, breast cancer, or liver disease may also not be good candidates for hormone therapy. Before starting any treatment, speak with a healthcare provider about risks and benefits.
Find a personalized treatment plan
HRT comes in many forms: pills, patches, gels, creams, or slow-releasing suppositories. Many women start with the lowest effective dose recommended and find significant symptom improvement. Anyone who is on HRT should regularly visit a healthcare provider to screen for any changes in bloodwork. While taking hormones, continue eating healthy, exercising, managing stress, and limiting caffeine and alcohol. For more information about HRT, speak with a healthcare provider.